Land Conservation Tools

There are multiple ways to protect your land as follows, including conservation restrictions:

Conservation Restriction

Conservation restrictions (also known as easements) are placed on land by a landowner and granted to the town, or sometimes to a private land trust. Restrictions limit the use of the land, typically in perpetuity, to retain the land in its natural, scenic or open condition, or in agricultural or forest use.

Advantages to Landowner

  • Landowner retains ownership of the land.
  • Real estate tax assessment of the property is often reduced.
  • Income and estate taxes may be reduced.
  • Landowner is able to maintain a larger parcel of intact land in perpetuity.

Policies & Guidelines

In December 2008, the Brookline Conservation Commission, Board of Selectmen, and Board of Assessors voted to adopt a Brookline Conservation Restriction Policy (PDF).

View the Conservation Restriction Guidelines (PDF) and learn more about conservation restrictions, benefits to landowners and the community, and procedures.

Purchase of Development Rights

A development right is a right of the property owner that allows the construction of a residence on one's property. Landowners voluntarily agree to sell all or a portion of their development rights to a municipality.

Advantages to Landowner

  • Landowner retains ownership of the land.
  • Landowner is paid for development rights.
  • Sale of development rights can lower estate taxes on the land itself.
  • Real estate tax assessment of the property is often reduced.

Bargain Sale

A bargain sale is a conveyance of development rights or land to a charitable conservation organization or municipality at less than its fair market value. For the recipients, a bargain sale results in a savings of limited acquisition funds.

Limited Development

Limited development is the subdivision of land on a reduced-density basis in a manner that is economically rewarding to the landowner and ecologically sensitive to the land. It integrates the unique elements of an individual property with the landowner's goals and the real estate market of the area to create an alternative to traditional development.

Advantages to Landowner

  • Recognition of landowner's rights and need to make gainful use of the land.
  • Ability to blend sales of property with charitable gifts to offset potential capital gains tax.
  • Regulatory agencies will often expedite approvals on limited development plans given the reduction in density.
  • Road improvements and other infrastructure costs are greatly reduced.
  • Flexibility for landowner to express their wishes today, while leaving implementation of the plan for the future.

Family Limited Partnership

A family limited partnership is a form of ownership that can be used to facilitate the transfer of land and other assets from 1 generation to another. Depending upon restrictions in the agreement, the value of land can be discounted by as much as 25-35% for estate tax purposes. The partnership can have full partners who have authority to manage the business and affairs of the partnership and limited partners who have no obligations or control over the partnership.

Charitable Reminder Trust

A Charitable Reminder Trust is a mechanism through which a landowner can achieve a stream of income during their lifetime or other specified time period by donating assets (cash, securities, land, etc.) for the benefit of a charitable organization or town. The trust manages the investment of the asset with the income being distributed to the donor.

Advantages to Landowner

  • A steady income during lifetime or other specified time period.

Land Donation

Under special circumstances, a landowner may want to consider an outright donation of land. Land donated to a conservation organization or town may represent an excellent legacy for future generations.

Advantages to Landowner

  • Transaction is simple and can be accomplished through a conveyance by deed.
  • Donation may provide a substantial income tax deduction to the landowner based on fair market value of the land.
  • Capital gains tax and real estate commission are avoided.
  • Value of land is removed from the landowner's estate thereby reducing future estate taxes.
  • If land donated is of significant conservation value, it will be permanently protected.
  • Donations of land can be planned so that the charitable contribution is used to offset a capital gains tax or other tax liability.